Sunday, September 27, 2015

9 Classical Novels You MUST Read Before You Die

As an avid lover of books, it's important for me to read everything I can--from the contemporary young adult novels of John Green and Veronica Roth, to classics like Fitzgerald and Hemingway.  But if you have even the slightest interest in anything to do with literature or composition, you're going to have to be able to read and comprehend major classical works.  In my four years of high school, I've read some greats: To Kill A Mockingbird, The Bluest Eye, and 1984--just to name a few.  But as a future English lit major and hopeful English professor/writer, I know I'm going to read more in the coming years.  So here's a list of 9 of my favorite classical novels so far, and why everyone needs to read them to understand pop culture references and just become better, more educated human beings.

1. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
     This novel holds some really great allegorical references, and it's disturbing to see how badly everything can go when the common rules of civilization go away.  This story gives a bleak vision of human nature.

2. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
     Not only does this story contain amazing historical references, but the story itself is deeply moving and emotional.

3. For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
     This novel covers so many themes (like death and sacrifice).  It also differs from other novels about war because it focuses on mainly one character.

4. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
     This is the dystopian novel.  One of the most often challenged novels of all time, it's important to understand why.

5. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
     This book is honestly nuts--it's all over the place, but the journalistic style is super interesting.  Plus, it's non-fiction.

6. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
     Another frequently challenged novel, this story is funny, sad, and incredibly moving.  Also, Nurse Ratched is terrifying.

7. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
     Themes on themes on themes.  Losing your attractiveness sucks, but not as much as losing your soul.  Everyone hated this book when it was released, but now it's a classic that absolutely cannot be overlooked.

8. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
     This novel hits the whole revenge theme hard.  It's set in post-Bonaparte France and beautifully captivates the writing style of adventure novels (intrigue, romance, power struggles--Dumas has it all).  Also, the ending is probably the most beautiful conclusion you'll ever read.

9. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
     This novel is witty and genius.  A brilliantly suggestive and resonant insight into human duality.  Stevenson says that his inspiration came to him in a dream, which is honestly pretty disturbing if you ask me.

As an aspiring writer, I can only hope that one of my stories would make it on a bookshelf--let alone on a required reading list.  So, what do you think?  Have you read the books on this list, or are you writing them down to check out the next time you go to the library?  What are your favorite classic works?

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